Posted on 03 November 2009.
TOKYO (Reuters) – The International Rugby Board has told Japan it would prefer the country to host all 48 games of the 2019 World Cup.
Japan is pressing the IRB to consider Hong Kong and Singapore as flyway venues for a handful of matches in a bid to expand rugby across Asia.
However, top IRB officials said on Monday that Japan’s proposal could prove problematic, although they did not rule out the possibility altogether.
“It’s difficult,” IRB chief executive Mike Miller told Reuters after the board’s first meetings with Japanese officials in Tokyo since the country was awarded the 2019 tournament.
“We would prefer it to be in one country because then there is a huge focus. What we don’t want is for people to be part of a World Cup in Japan and never play in Japan.
“They do not need to put matches abroad to make it successful. I don’t think there’s a worry about having 48 matches in Japan and having those matches sold out.”
IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset stopped short of giving the Japan Rugby Football Union’s initiative a ringing endorsement.
“We need to discuss it formally,” he said, the Webb Ellis trophy in front of him. “The concept is good. We have experience of hosting games in a different country in 1991, 1999 and 2007.
“But the issue that makes this decision different is that today we are dealing with countries without the experience those (Home Nations and French) unions had.”
Miller said the final decision would be down to the IRB Council.
“If there are matches in other countries there will only be a few matches,” he added. “It wouldn’t be a pool somewhere else because then they’re not part of the Japan World Cup.
“I expect there to be a lot of debate. But there’s no rush. Ideally you’d want to decide six years out at least so that gives us three years but I expect it to be decided sooner than that.”
England won the right to stage the 2015 World Cup while Japan were named as Asia’s first hosts for 2019 following the IRB vote in July. New Zealand host the next World Cup in 2011.
JRFU chairman Nobby Mashimo said the Japanese government would be asked for financial support for the tournament following two days of talks with organisers Rugby World Cup Limited.
“All the host unions so far have made a very substantial profit from the World Cup,” said Miller. “It brings hundreds of millions of dollars into the host country’s economy.”
Miller said the successful staging of the Bledisloe Cup between New Zealand and Australia in Tokyo at the weekend augured well for the run-up to 2019.
“We also saw what happened in the 2002 soccer World Cup,” he said. “People in Japan are very proud and want to show the world they will get behind their own event.”